Jewish cap [yarmulke]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Lucretia, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. Lucretia Senior Member

    Could you tell me the word for the tiny hat religious Jews wear? I heard it once on the radio, it sounded like [`kip@], but I couldn't find anything like that in the dictionary.
    Thank you.
  2. DCPaco Senior Member

    Planet Earth
    Spanish of Mexico/ English of the USA
    kippah...although there are other ways to spell it. Yarmulke is the "yiddish" word for it. The kippah is mainly worn by Sephardic Jews (Sepharad, ancient name of Spain.)
  3. guixols Senior Member

    San Francisco
    USA / English, German
    Hi Lucretia,

    I can think of two words. One is yarmulke. The other word is kippah (plural: kippot). One other thing: I think "devout Jews" is the phrase you mean.


  4. Lucretia Senior Member

    Thank you!
    What I heard was kippah, then. Yes, I also had some doubts about religious. First I wrote orthodox, then corrected.
  5. guixols Senior Member

    San Francisco
    USA / English, German
    As I understand it, "Orthodox Jews" refers to a specific sect. Not all Jews who wear kippot are orthodox.
  6. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    It's a minefield, really! I'm not Orthodox, but I consider myself religious.

    Most people who wear yarmulkes outside of religious settings are Orthodox, but not all.

    The compromise I usually hear is "highly observant" or something like that, but I guess I'm "highly observant" of my own branch of Judaism....

    This is a no-win situation in my opinion, but at least we got the names of the headgear down!
  7. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Absolutely-- in the U.S. there are Conservative and Reform Jews, and they wear yarmulkes.

    I almost objected to "devout Jews," even though I'm sure the expression is used somewhere in the English-speaking world. I've only ever heard people say whether or not they are "religious Jews" or "practicing Jews."

    I would take "I'm not a practicing Jew" to mean something like a lapsed Catholic-- don't go to services or make observances. "I'm not a religious Jew" means you might go along with family celebrations on holy days, but don't go to shul. Jews of either description may or may not observe dietary laws.
  8. Lucretia Senior Member

    So religious is fine, then? Acceptable?
  9. ElaineG

    ElaineG Senior Member

    Brooklyn NY
    Well, that's why it's a minefield! You can be a religious Jew and not wear a yalmulke.

    It's not required at all outside of shul in Reform Judaism, and in some congregations is optional within it.

    Conservative Jews will wear one during religious observances but not necessarily in daily life.

    Most Orthodox men will wear one at all times.

    Yet members of all three groups will consider themselves religious.

    But it's not worth fretting over.
  10. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    It's definitely widely used in AE.

    Google is not the best research tool but it does measure the raw statistics, if all you want to know is whether a phrase is widespread. Here are some results:

    religious Jews 256,000
    devout Jews 48,500
    religious Christians 41,800
    devout Christians 211,000
    devout Catholics 115,000
    devout Protestants 2,510

    Well, this confirms my sense that devout is a word usually associated with Catholicism-- but the low numbers for "devout Protestants" came as a bit of a shock to me!

    Yipes! It gets even worse when you break protestants down into denominations. I googled as many as I could think of, and only Baptists registered over 1000 hits-- the Mormons came in a close second.
  11. maxiogee Banned

    And I bet each crowd doesn't get on with the others ;)

    What a lot of God-botherers!
  12. estudiante2102

    estudiante2102 Member

    Well, the main word is a yarmulke... I am Jewish, and I know plenty of people who aren't orthodox who still wear yarmulkes... it is a symbol of religious devotion, which you don't need to be orthodox to have.

    There are also two major groups of Judaism, which most people don't know about: Ashkenazi and Sephardic. The Ashkenazi are European Jews, while the Sephardic are Spanish Jews.

  13. Lucretia Senior Member

    Thank you all very much.
  14. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    The main word in Yiddish is yarmulke. The main word in Hebrew is kippa. The language Yiddish is a dialect spoken by Ashkenazi Jews. Since the majority of Jews in the US are Ashkenazi, that may be the more common word there. In Israel, the more common word among both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews (as well as other Oriental Jews) is kippa, because Hebrew is the common language.

    I have also heard "skullcap" used in English.
  15. Hockey13

    Hockey13 Senior Member

    Irvine, California
    This would probably be taken as an offense as a skullcap is something different. I have always heard Yarmulke (pronounced yom-uh-kuh) in my life having grown up around many Jewish families. For the longest time I did not know how to spell it because of the vast difference in spelling and pronunciation. But I guess that's just English's brazen disregard for pronunciation rules due to language gobbling.
  16. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I was born and raised into an Orthodox Jewish family in Jerusalem, Israel. "Skullcap" is the English word I heard and used when we moved to the US. (My brother and father wore them.)

    To the best of my knowledge, "skullcap" is a neutral word, having among it's meanings a type of medicinal plant, a part of the skull, and a small, brimless cap. I've never heard it used offensively, but language is dynamic and I accept that usage may have changed since then.

    By the way the English "spelling" of yarmulke is just a transliteration because Yiddish is written in Hebrew letters, so variation is to be expected.
  17. sweetpotatoboy Senior Member

    English, UK (London)
    Just thought I'd mention another Yiddish word for this. Here in the UK (at least in London), we are more likely to use kapel (pronounced just like 'couple' in English) than yarmulke.
  18. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Hello, sweetpotatoboy and welcome :)

    I forgot about kap'l (which I pronounce like that), but we used it to refer to the little cap (hence kap'l) hassidic boys wore before bar mitzva. I didn't know it was also a kippa. Thanks!
  19. Brioche

    Brioche Senior Member

    Australia English
    I recall in my youth that some Catholic clergy wore skullcaps.
    They are called zucchetti in Italian.
    They were based on a very old kippah design.
    The Pope wears a white one, and cardinals red ones.

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